I meet women every week working on the frontline of this pandemic. Women are disproportionately impacted by covid19 particularly in this 3rd wave where childcare and education have not been prioritized. Something has to change! here is an extract from a blog I wrote in February 2021.
Women, the Silent Heroes of this Global Pandemic
“Nothing happens until somebody moves”
I became a fan of statistics a few years back when studying psychology as data is used to drive and argue for policy change along with tracking trends.
This global pandemic is spotlighting issues for women and families that have remained the norm in societies and truly unexamined for years.
Women account for
79% of the healthcare workforce in Ireland.
76% across the U.K. and the European Union
80% in the United States
A recent article in the New York Times points to the fact that millions of women became the most essential workers in the United States.
Yet, they do not have an equal voice in the ranks of LEADERSHIP, with a recent report signaling the percentage of women on Fortune 500 health care executive teams and boards having flatlined since 2015 at around 22%!
When I really reflected on this, it is baffling, the healthcare workforce consists of approximately 80% women-the critical stakeholders, and yet only 22% of women make it to leadership positions where all of the most important policies and decisions are made! What also became apparent was that in countries(Scandinavia) with more female representation in government and on boards issues such as education, childcare and disability services received far greater funding and prioritization.
Research is also emerging highlighting the fact that women are not only on the frontline of this pandemic professionally, they are disproportionally carrying the burden due to the increased pressure on the domestic front. Fundamentally, the reality is that both formal and informal caring duties (of children, disabled and elderly) still fall on women across the world.
In my work, I meet many of these women in healthcare, who juggle working on the frontline, dressed in PPE for 9–12 hours or longer shifts, risking their health and that of their families every day. They then return home to face home schooling and household duties. On top of this the women I work with are also negotiating perimenopause/menopause often having to manage a cocktail of hot flushes, sweats, sleep deprivation.
Where is the time for self-care, a vital requisite for optimal mental and physical wellbeing.
Covid19 adds to, as well as again highlighting the gender inequalities including structural, social and economic barriers, still faced by women.
As long as informal “care work” continues to be undervalued by governments, societies and policy makers, the cost to those caring (who are predominantly women) in relation to their health, wellbeing and financial status is very high.
As Einstein is reportedly quoted as saying “Nothing happens until someone moves” Women have voices but more of us need to be encouraged or possibly mentored to use them.
One has to ask how much more of the dual challenge, at home and in the workplace can women-the critical stakeholders, actually take, without governments prioritization of childcare and education as this pandemic continues.
Breeda Bermingham/Midlife Women Rock Project Founder
Social Entrepreneur, Researcher of all things positive about menopause. Changing the story.